The Latest: Trump rips Georgia governor at Valdosta rally

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VALDOSTA. Ga. (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump ripped Republican Gov. Brian Kemp at a rally for the state’s two Republican senators, hours after the governor refused a direct entreaty from the president to intervene to overturn Trump’s loss in the state.

As the large crowd chanted “Stop the Steal”–what’s become a rallying cry for Republicans unwilling to accept Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in last month’s presidential election–Trump responded that “Your governor could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing.”

Hours before the Valdosta rally, Trump asked Kemp in the phone call to order the legislative session to subvert the election results, but the governor refused, according to a senior government official in Georgia with knowledge of the call who was not authorized to discuss the private conversation. A person close to the White House who was briefed on the matter verified that account of the call.

According to a tweet from Kemp, Trump also asked him to order an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in his state, a step Kemp is not empowered to take because he has no authority to interfere in the electoral process on Trump’s behalf.

By AP writer Aamer Madhani.

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7:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump kicked off his Saturday night rally in Georgia for Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue by recycling the falsehood that he won the state.

“You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,” Trump told the large crowd gathered for the first post-election rally for the president.

In fact, President-elect Joe Biden won the state of Georgia by about 12,500 votes out of 5 million cast.

Trump said that he traveled to Georgia to help “ensure” the two Republicans win what are probably the most important Senate runoffs in U.S. history.

First Lady Melania Trump kicked off the rally by telling Georgians that it’s more important than ever “that you exercise your rights as a citizen and vote.”

4:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump has fruitlessly pressed Georgia’s governor to call a special legislative session aimed at overturning the presidential election results in that state.

Trump made his request iof Gov. Brian Kemp in a phone call on Saturday, and the governor refused. That is according to a senior government official in Georgia with knowledge of the call who was not authorized to discuss the private conversation and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A person close to the White House who was briefed on the matter verified that account of the call.

Trump’s request was first reported by The Washington Post.

Trump’s fixation with his defeat is overshadowing his party’s campaign to save its majority in the Senate. The call took place hours before Trump is to appear at a rally in Georgia, where Republicans hope he will dedicate his energy to imploring their supporters to vote in two runoff elections Jan. 5.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

President Donald Trump’s first political rally since losing his reelection bid is ostensibly to urge support for the Republican incumbents in Georgia’s two runoffs that will decide which party controls the Senate at the start of Joe Biden’s administration. But the question remains whether Trump will really try to help his party or use the Saturday night event in Valdosta to amplify his conspiratorial and debunked theories of electoral fraud.

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